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The "Wrong" Workout

You've been exercising for years and you are sure you know what your doing. Tim Koffler, Fitness Director for the Seattle Athletic Club, has been teaching people how to workout "right."
Along the way, he's seen a lot of people doing things wrong…

“In reality they may be able to do it, but they're not doing it correctly,” says Koffler.

He says you may also be hurting yourself. So, his first bit of advice is simple: use a trainer or ask a friend for help.

“Not only will you keep yourself from getting hurt, you don't waste your time, and you don't get discouraged too easily.”

Here are some of the most common-and potentially dangerous--workout mistakes to pay attention to.


“They do a lot of swinging with their arms. That it increases the chance they will hurt themselves. Keep your body still, focus on slow, controlled movements and keep your back straight, and only move the muscles that you are actually working out” he says, “which will actually make your body workout harder.”


“When you drop your arms, make sure they don’t drop farther than level with your shoulders otherwise you are putting too much stress across the shoulders and the chest,” says Koffler. “So pick the arms up a little bit, and stop where you're upper arm is more parallel to the floor.”


“One thing we see a lot of problems with is people rounding the lower back and loading it up with a lot of weight when it was never meant to do that,” he stresses. “Your back should be fairly straight up and down, flat and supported.”


So a proper push up would be to bring the chin and the chest to the ground, keeping the back straight and not letting the rest of the body touch unless you want to make it easier by dropping knees down, but again keep your back straight and bend your arms.”


“Often times people yank, pull on their necks. Not only are they potentially hurting themselves, they just aren’t getting that good of a workout. They’re working out their arms more than their abs. The right way would be to stare at the ceiling, lift up toward the ceiling, keeping the back relatively straight and do the same motion without using the hands or putting your hands on your thighs and moving them toward the top of the knees.”


“Most importantly you want to keep the pressure off your back. You’re back should be flat on the ground when you lower your legs. If you can't keep that position,” says Koffler, “tuck your fingers under the lower back kind of hold it there, and try and put pressure on the hand.”
Koffler has also created fitness cards, and suggests putting a workout calendar together. He says ultimately: try to do exercises that work your whole body or mimic movements you would do in your everyday life.

“When people really get that this is a long term process and this is not about getting on a scale and seeing their weight go down, it's about having your clothes fit comfortably, and having the energy to do the things you want, then people get more committed to making the lifestyle change.”

Web Extra: “The At-Home Quick Fix”

"At The Core"

1. Pelvic Tilt (12 reps)
2. Floor Cobra (12 reps)
3. Plank (10 reps)

Pelvic Tilt
Lie on your back with your feet flat on the floor and knees bent at ninety degrees. In this relaxed position, the small of your back will not be touching the floor. Tighten your abdominal muscles so that your lower back presses flat against the floor. Hold for five seconds then relax. Gradually build to 12 repetitions.

Floor Cobra
Lie on your stomach with legs together and arms in front of you with the palms down. Tighten your glutes and core then lift your chest off the floor. Lift your arms up and back toward the hips, rotating thumbs toward the ceiling. Hold for 2 seconds then return to the starting position. Your chin should stay tucked into the chest. Don’t arch excessively when lifting the chest; no lower back pain should be felt. Complete 12 repetitions.

Lie on your stomach with legs together and forearms supporting your upper body weight on the floor. Draw your abs toward your spine, tighten your glutes and lift your body onto your forearms and toes. Your body should be parallel to the floor and your chin tucked into your chest. Keep your spine in neutral position during each 15 second hold. Repeat 10 repetitions. If you experience any pain, reduce the hold time. Beginners may balance on their forearms and knees until sufficient strength is developed to progress to the toes.

"No Ifs Ands or Butts"

1. Step-Ups (10-15 reps)
2. Lunges (8-12 reps)
3. Quadraped Hip Extension (10-15 reps)

Stand with good posture behind a tall step or box (at least 15 inches high) while holding a dumbbell or other weight in each hand. Place your right foot on the step and transfer your weight to that leg as you step up, pushing through your heel. Push with the right leg only; using the left for balance, especially as you initiate the step-up. Slowly step down and repeat 10 to 15 reps. Change legs.

Stand tall with good posture while hold a dumbbell or weight in each hand. Step forward with the right foot, keeping the head up and spine neutral. Drop your left knee toward the floor by bending both knees, making sure to keep the front heel down and the knee directly over the center of the foot. Both knees should end up at a 90-degree angle at the bottom of the movement. Push down and forward through your right heel to return to the starting position. Complete eight to 12 reps. Change legs.

Quadraped Hip Extension
On hands and knees, keep the abs tight as you lift one leg up, knee bent at a 90-degree angle throughout the movement. Keep lifting the leg until the bottom of the foot faces the ceiling and the hip, thigh and knee are all in alignment and parallel to the floor. The back and neck should not arch, remaining parallel to the floor. Return to the starting position and repeat 10 to 15 times. For more intensity add ankle weights or a light dumbbell behind the knee.


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Comments (1)


Thanks! Please feel free to comment or email me any time on other ideas or things you would like us to cover.
Take care,
Lara Yamada

This is a very informative and helpful exercise strategy. I really like the way you explain the moves and provide simple ways to understand whether the exercise is being done correctly. This is an amazing resource and I am so happy that Q13 has posted this for the viewing audience.

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